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Faithful through suffering, part 6

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Truth Network Radio
May 4, 2023 9:22 pm

Faithful through suffering, part 6

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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Delight in Grace
Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, Pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. Author Edmund Clowney wrote, We are called to overcome evil with good. As people who are free, it's our privilege to champion what is true, right and good. This world is passing, and we are free to live for the greater reality that full righteousness and satisfaction are coming when we are eternally with Christ. There's only one before whom we will stand in the end. So we must live with his opinion in mind. My reflection of Christ and the glory of God are higher priorities than protecting my rights, my comfort and my survival.

Today's the second part of the sermon titled Faithful Through Sorrow, which was first preached on October 16, 2022. There were some who were people of integrity and kindness and justice, but the vast majority of them were very cruel. A huge percentage of the first century world was people who were slaves. And brutality was common. Sexual abuse was common because a slave had no rights. You're my property. And a slave had to do whatever the owner required of them. That can get pretty gruesome. This is where the sorrow comes in. This is a sorrowful state. So I want to offer a little bit of perspective here because he says in verse 18 to be subject to your masters with all respect.

Let me make something very clear here. Slavery, any form of slavery is a human invention. It's a human scheme. It's the fact that we humans in this fallen created order, humans who are alienated from God, this slavery is the result of human bondage to our passions. It is a reflection of our depravity. It is the cause of divisions in our minds where we think less of other people.

This is a product of the fall. This is human depravity. And it results in partiality and prejudice where you think someone else can become your property, therefore you have the right to treat them any way you please. Because they're yours, you can abuse them without recourse. You can abuse them with impunity. It's a sad reality of human history that goes way, way back. The idea that as slavery as we know it of capturing, kidnapping an individual, and then transporting them and selling them in the marketplace is outright condemned in scripture.

Absolutely. Let me show you a couple of examples. First Timothy chapter 1 and verse 10. Paul is writing to Timothy and he's talking about people who are lawless and disobedient, who will receive the just reward of their behavior.

One of those is enslavers. Some translations translate that kidnappers. But it's the idea of kidnapping someone and then selling them to someone else to become their property. That behavior is unequivocally condemned in scripture. The reason why it's important to say that is because in American history, some owners would take a verse like today's verse 18 and preach it to their slaves and say, see, the Bible says you have to be subject to us with honor.

Defending and justifying their own evil behavior. This also is not just in the New Testament. This condemnation of that kind of slavery behavior is condemned even in the Old Testament. Let's look at Exodus chapter 21. Whoever steals a man and sells him and anyone found in possession of him shall be put to death.

Any questions? It's pretty clear, isn't it? But it is a product of the fall. It is a product of the depravity of man.

It is not by God's design. It is a human invention. Having said that, slavery, as I painted a portrait of it before, how people got into slavery, what positions they would hold, was a very real part of ancient civilization. Listen, it's a very real part of today's civilization.

It's just all done very covertly and it's very easy for us in our comfortable Western culture to just kind of sweep it under the rug and pretend it's not happening. But listen, I think it's fair to say that there are more slaves today than there were in the 18th century in the United States of America. It's just a different kind of slavery. But it's still vile. The New Testament does not endorse nor does it prescribe slavery, but it subverts this institution, this man-made institution, by the transformation of one's heart and mind.

Very important principle to remember. An example of that is Paul's letter to the man called Philemon in the New Testament, one of the shortest books in the New Testament. It's a letter from Paul to Philemon. Paul encounters Onesimus. Onesimus is saved. He becomes a Christian and Paul is sending Onesimus back to Philemon. Philemon was, Onesimus was Philemon's servant, slave. And what does Paul say? In essence, he says, Philemon, receive him back, listen to this now, you ready for this?

As a brother. Now that's subversion of the institution, isn't it? But this is what Peter is talking about here in 1 Peter as well.

Servants be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and the gentle, but also to the unjust. The New Testament writers were not, listen to me please, the New Testament writers were not social revolutionaries. Overhaul of societal structures would not transform the culture.

We need to understand that, remember that. Overhaul of societal structures will not transform the culture. That's why everything that goes on today, all the attempts at utopia, all the revolutions, all the upheaval, all of them are attempts at restructuring society.

None of them will change what happens in the human heart and mind. But the Gospel can and does. The New Testament writers did not complain about oppression.

They did not complain about injustice. But they concentrated on the Christian's godly response to injustice. That's what we have before us today. This is a very anti-American text that we're considering from the Scriptures today. Here's a very important point to remember. The Gospel eventually overthrew the Roman Empire and the terrible institution of slavery, even though the early church did not preach against either one.

That is a profound truth. We need to be careful that we do not usurp the role of the Holy Spirit. Now some have asked me, Rich, why are you constantly talking about Christian submission to authorities? I will talk about it as much as the Scriptures talk about it. And the Scriptures talk about it a lot. We're going through verse Peter, and we go through verse by verse, chapter by chapter. We're coming upon the next paragraph, and what does this paragraph say? Servants be subject to your masters with all respect. Now you might be saying, well, we don't really have that today, so it doesn't really apply to us today. Why would Peter write this in the beginning, right? Why would he even write something like that?

What's going on? Give us a scenario. Imagine yourself in the first century in the Roman Empire, and you're a household slave. And you encounter the Gospel, and you entrust yourself to Jesus Christ, and the teaching is now you are free in Christ. In Christ you are free. And so I'm free from the bondage and penalty of sin. I'm free to know God, to enjoy Him, to walk with Him.

I have this freedom. So what does that mean about my slavery? You can see how that would be a very real question in the first century, wouldn't it? And some of them would say, well, I'm free. Now I have no business being a slave serving some human. That's why Peter writes what he does in verses 18 through 20. Because some of them were saying, hey, you know the apostles are writing and they're teaching in Christ, there's neither Jew nor Gentile, there's neither slave nor free. I have no business being a slave because I'm not a slave in Christ.

So how do you address that? And although none of us is engaged in any kind of, at least I hope not, engaged in any kind of slavery or ownership of slaves, and so we're thinking, okay, well, yeah, this is a good history lesson, but how does it apply to me today? Well, that's what we need to consider, because there are very important truths that are related to this throughout Scripture. And as I said, as Warren Wiersbe points out here, the gospel eventually overthrew the Roman Empire and the terrible institution of slavery, even though the early church did not preach against either one.

What the gospel did, what the church did through the gospel was called sanctified subversion. We're so glad you've joined us for Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. You can hear this message and others anytime by visiting our website, You can also check out Pastor Rich's book, Seven Words That Can Change Your Life, where he unpacks from God's Word the very purpose for which you were designed. Seven Words That Can Change Your Life is available wherever books are sold. As always, tune in to Delight in Grace weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-05 00:28:43 / 2023-05-05 00:33:04 / 4

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